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Dare Board approves funds for Rodanthe beach nourishment feasibility study—with a condition

Collapsed homes in Rodanthe have given the issue of beach nourishment more urgency. (File Photo, credit Cape Hatteras National Seashore)

Posted on July 19, 2023

The Dare Board of Commissioners took a first step toward a possible beach nourishment project in Rodanthe at its July 17 meeting when it approved paying up to $1.5 million to help fund a beach nourishment feasibility study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The issue of beach nourishment in Rodanthe has taken on increasing urgency as the ocean moves closure to shoreline properties, leading to the collapse of some homes there in recent years.

The County would owe the full $1.5 million if the entire feasibility study is completed. But as part of the commissioners’ approval of the funding, they seek a written guarantee from the Corps, as County Manager Bobby Outten explained in an email, that the feasibility study would be conducted “in stages so that if at any given stage, it appears the project is not feasible, then they would not move to the next stage.”

“The purpose is to avoid paying for unnecessary work,” he added, since the county would only have to the pay half the costs incurred at the point when the study is halted. If the actual beach nourishment project itself was implemented, estimates are that it would cost about $40 million, which would have to be appropriated by Congress. There is, at this point, no timetable for these steps.

Third District U.S. Congressman Greg Murphy has helped shepherd Dare County officials through this process, informing them in a June 16 letter about the costs of the feasibility study and the county’s funding obligations toward it.

During the discussion at the July 17 commissioners’ meeting, some concerns that were expressed about the study appeared to be allayed by the decision to request the guarantee in writing from the Army Corps that it would be done in stages, and as Outten noted, “at any stage, we could call off the dogs.”

In introducing the issue at the meeting, the county manager told the commissioners that “as you know, we’ve been talking about beach nourishment in Rodanthe for a while.”

There was a jam-packed community meeting on the subject of beach nourishment in Rodanthe back on Jan. 18 where the county manager’s message was pretty straightforward—at that point, there wasn’t money for a nourishment project.  He explained that the county and towns have just completed the 2022 renourishment projects and the funds, which are raised through occupancy taxes and property taxes, were depleted.

Meeting with reporters in late March, Superintendent of the National Park Service’s Outer Banks Group, Dave Hallac, called the encroaching water and collapsed homes on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore “one of the most significant problems that I think we’ve dealt with in a long time.”

Toward that end, Hallac stated that he had sent letters trying to alert homeowners whose homes seemed to be in danger of collapse that they should have a plan in place if the home is destroyed.


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